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How to choose the best business webcam

business webcam
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

In today’s current climate, video collaboration has undoubtedly become an essential component of business connections, from ad-hoc collaborative huddles to medium and large group conference meetings.

At the heart of all the video collaboration is the webcam. For professional settings, cameras with small lenses, grainy low-light exposure, and limited viewing angles just don’t measure up. For a professional appearance, you simply need a professional camera. The ideal video collaboration system includes cameras that are:

  • Optimized for a wide range of applications and environments
  • Designed for professional-quality collaboration
  • Easily integrated with other equipment
  • Supported with a strong warranty and technical assistance

Whether for a solid setup at your base of operations or a flexible solution for remote use at home, the camera used for video conferencing must accommodate a variety of settings. The number of participants on the local end may vary widely, from a few in executive offices and huddle spaces to medium and large groups in conference spaces, boardrooms, training centers, or classrooms.

About the author

Ketan Merchant is Vice President of Video Technologies at ClearOne

Be sure to consider the need to mount the camera - your space and your portability needs dictate form factor. With a permanent conferencing space setup, you have further options for higher-end Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) options and versatile solutions for mounting. The more flexible the conference space, the more valuable high-end options may be. Classrooms and training settings can make full use of PTZ options to help engage far-end participants by providing the more immersive effect of visually moving around and deeper into the space. Fixed mounting allows aesthetic and ergonomic placement of the larger cameras from wall or ceiling, whether upright or upside down to fit the space. As preferences change to smaller formats or portable needs, desktop and monitor mounts allow the flexibility to change placement ad-hoc and travel easily for temporary setups.

For effective professional collaboration, the camera must have professional-quality resolution and an ultra-wide-angle field of view. The camera must also be able to focus on certain areas or participants, so users are not stuck in a one-size-fits-all video experience. Flexible zoom features, such as digital zoom power and PTZ options allow you to capture every participant in any size of workspace. With these capabilities, your camera becomes not only a vital collaborative tool, but a powerful channel to display a professional appearance even in the most temporary settings. An environment as quick and transitory as an airport business-center cubicle can still provide a pleasant, professional, and efficient meeting experience.

Your camera must also easily integrate into your organization’s infrastructure. It must be compatible with multiple popular cloud-based video collaboration applications like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, ClearOne COLLABORATE Space, Skype, and others, allowing you to focus on the business at-hand rather than configuration details or troubleshooting. At some point or another, all of us have participated in meetings that were primarily spent working through compatibility and technical issues even before they started, rather than collaborating and making important decisions.

A full range of connections - USB, HDMI, and IP connection options - is essential to allow integration with other equipment. Another must is wide support for industry protocols for camera control (UVC 1.1) and streaming (TCP/IP, HTTP, RTSP, RTMP, DHCP, and MULTICAST).

The selection of the right camera is a consideration for both current and future needs and finding a scalable solution that can flex with your organization as it evolves.

By the way, now is the time to step up to the 4K standard. When you’re giving a presentation, you don’t want a long-distance participant interrupting at the most important point to ask what you’ve written on the board. Even worse, your presentation may then be disrupted by participants asking whether someone will take pictures of the board to email to the rest of the group.

Fortunately, meetings and presentations with remote participants no longer have to be this way. Thanks to 4K technology, web and video conferencing can be truer to what in-person, face-to-face meetings are like. For the 4K video conferencing experience, you need a camera and display with 4K capabilities, as well as 4K-capable software. 

As you narrow choices for hardware, type of use, integration with software and existing systems or new installations, remember to protect that investment. Does your vendor or the camera manufacturer support their product with a warranty and technical assistance? You’ll want to know that your investment in a powerful collaboration tool comes with the support and guarantee you need to be successful.

From webcams to larger ePTZ and PTZ models, the camera is one of the cornerstones of your collaborative business connection infrastructure. An investment in a camera that is optimized for a wide range of settings, enables professional-quality collaboration, integrates easily and is backed with solid support, will pay both short-term and long-term dividends.